Type to search

  • Bruins search for “sandpaper goals” as home skid continues

    Tim Rosenthal February 16, 2024

    For the first time since the opening week of the 2023-24 season, the Boston Bruins share the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

    Once again, their effort Thursday night against the Seattle Kraken wasn’t in question. Jim Montgomery’s squad fired the game’s first 11 shots on net and took a 1-0 lead just 4:54 in as David Pastrnak rolled in his 34th of the season past local product Joey Daccord.

    If only the Bruins received similar offensive breaks over the next 55 minutes and change. Instead, they failed to build on their early advantage and encountered more ill-timed breakdowns.

    While they showed more urgency and generated quality looks, Boston’s stagnant power play couldn’t capitalize after Brandon Carlo drew a trip on Jared McCann on the ensuing shift from Pastrnak’s tally. They also failed to regain a lead in their second opportunity during the middle stanza.

    The opportunistic Kraken pounced, converting on their first power play attempt at 9:11 of the opening frame. Jordan Eberle, parked along the goal line, earned a second-effort tally after tracking the puck through traffic in front of Jeremy Swayman’s crease for his 10th goal of the season.


    The Bruins continued pushing against Daccord. But once again, they succumbed to another brutal break when Carlo lost an edge along the blue-line of Boston’s blue line, leading directly to a 3-on-1 opportunity in transition. The Kraken quickly took advantage as Eeli Tolvanen completed a give-and go sequence with Hingham’s own Matty Beniers on a one-timer for his 14th of the season at 17:35 of the second.

    Beniers, who notched a pair of assists on the tying and go-ahead markers, capitalized on another turnover after Parker Wotherspoon’s one-timer was blocked. The former Boston University Terrier delivered a slick wrist shot past Swayman to give the Kraken some insuranc at 8:36 of the final frame.


    McCann put the finishing touches on Seattle’s 4-1 victory with his empty-netter.

    “It’s great. It’s a really good win,” Beniers said following his three-point outing. “Great to come into Boston and beat one of the best teams in the league. 

    Here’s what we learned as the B’s drop to 1-3-1 in their season-long seven-game homestand.

    The Bruins could use some “sandpaper goals.”


    Against the Lightning, the Bruins couldn’t take advantage of their three third-period power play chances. Two nights later, the Bruins could only put one past a game Daccord despite generating 16 high-danger scoring chances, mostly coming off the rush.

    The Kraken turned defense into offense following a pair of mishaps from Carlo and Wotherspoon at the blue line. The Bruins couldn’t buy a break after Pastrnak’s tally.

    Perhaps the recent efforts will eventually turn into bounces. At the very least, they’ll keep working toward earning a blue-collar break or two, particularly on special teams.

    “We’re going to stick together, and we’re going to keep working and keep grinding,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to take some sandpaper goals where it goes off of us and stuff. That didn’t happen. We had incredible looks. We hit posts. Those things happen, and you have nights like that.”

    The power play looked better, but the penalty kill remains off.

    Amid some rotating personnel within their top unit, Boston’s power play remains in the league’s top 10 after converting on nearly 24 percent of its opportunities. They’ve relied heavily on feeding Pastrnak for his trademark one-timer from the faceoff circle and used Brad Marchand’s half-wall skillset for their secondary setup.

    Still, they’ve hit a few cold spells during their transitional season. Their recent 1-19 run during the first five games of the home stand serves as one of their worst stretches of the season.

    The Bruins only landed three shots on net in their two power-play attempts against Seattle. But unlike their 0-6 outing against Tampa Bay, Boston’s man advantage gained easier entries into the attacking end and established better puck-moving habits toward the front of the net for primary and secondary looks.

    Their best chance of the night came when James van Riemsdyk had a near-open net along the doorstep only to direct the puck just wide of the goalmouth.

    “That’s just how our PP is going right now,” Pastrnak said. “I guess we need one lucky bounce to go in, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to turn things around. But even in the first period, the PP was good. We had a lot of chances and inched our way at scoring. It’s unfortunate because in the last two games those are the goals that we’re missing.”

    Alas, Boston’s power play remains a work in progress. The same holds true for the penalty kill.

    With the forwards puck-watching, the Bruins failed to clear a rebound in front of Swayman as he lost sight of the puck, leading directly to Eberle’s equalizer.

    “When we get running out of position or try to do too much, that’s not a good thing,” Carlo said after the Bruins gave up their fifth power-play goal in their last 17 shorthanded attempts. 

    “Overall, I feel that we have plenty of faith and confidence in our kill. It’s slipped a little bit. But as long as we continue to go about it the right way, you’ve seen in the past couple of years that it’s been in the top of the league. So we’re going to try and make sure that it continues to happen.”

    The Bruins now share the top of the Atlantic with the Panthers.

    A year ago, the Bruins turned their attention to the record books. In the end, they surpassed the 62 victories compiled by the 1995-96 Red Wings and 2018-19 and eclipsed the 132 points set by the legendary 1976-77 Canadiens. 

    A record-breaking regular season turned into a bitter postseason exit after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Panthers. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci announced their retirements a couple of months later. 

    Between the two developments, many hockey pundits didn’t predict the Bruins to remain in the top of the Atlantic. They’ve defied expectations so far, but reality is starting to settle in as the Panthers sit atop the division behind their regulation wins tiebreaker.

    The Bruins and Panthers, both with 72 points, will meet twice more in 2023-24. But after last year, a veteran B’s bunch aren’t too concerned over where they sit in the standings. Instead, they’re more focused on halting this current skid.

    “I think after last year, we don’t pay too much attention to that. It’s more about maintaining a playoff position,” Carlo said. “So from there, we’re not really focused about anybody else… just continuing to grow our game. But, yeah, it’s great when you have those opportunities toward the end of the year to look at the standings a little bit and see your competition.”

    Facebook Comments
    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


    You Might also Like

    Leave a Comment